Q: I have a Mossberg 464 lever-action in .30-30 Win. equipped with a 2-7×33 scope that I am going to reload for. I’ve been using it on pigs, but intend taking it after rusa deer in wooded country. Can you recommend a bullet and load for that purpose? Is there anything I should know about reloading this cartridge?
A: The .30-30 has probably taken more deer than any other cartridge in existence, and bullets and ammunition them have been designed around deer hunting. Almost any 150gn bullet intended for the .30-30 performs ideally on deer-size game. You can be sure that the bullet provides good penetration and expansion at .30-30impactvelocities over short to medium distances. Handloading for a .30-30 is not difficult, but there are some things that make it different from modern rifle rounds. The cartridge’s rim and tapering case with its long neck are obvious atypical features, but do not affect the reloading process. Breech pressures should held to 42,000 psi for the short-barreled lightweight carbines the .30-30 is chambered in because a too-hot load can jam the lever action so that it will not open up. One critical aspect of the 30-30 levergun is that the rounds are usually held in a tube magazine which means that most bullets are blunt-nosed with one exception the Hornady 160gn FTX which has a soft plastic tip. My pet load for the 160gn FTX bullet is either 35.5gn of W-748 or 30gn of AR2219 both of which get 2280fps in a 50cm barrel. You’ll need to crimp case mouths into bullet cannelures. Overall cartridge length is important for good function. You will find plenty of flat-nose bullets with cannelures made for the .30-30 Win. But you’ll find that lining up with the case mouths for crimping in the bullet seating die only works if all cases are of exactly the same length. Use light pressure as .30-30 case necks are relatively thin; if you apply too much crimp they’ll buckle. You only need to apply enough crimp to keep the bullet from moving in the case mouth.